Please explain more about trial lessons to me

<p>I was reading the other thread about the role of parents in trial lessons. I would hardly know my role b/c I wouldn't even know the procedure for <em>getting</em> a trial lesson? How does one do this? Do you try to do this in conjunction with the college visits/tours that you do? How far in advance does one need to contact someone? Do you contact the teacher directly? Phone? E-mail? If there is more than one teacher in the instrument, how do you choose which one to have a lesson with? How would you know whose studio you might even be in???? Is a trial lesson something you would consider necessary at any school you would want to attend? Do all <em>types</em> of schools (Big State U, LAC, and conservatories) do trial lessons? Do you have your dc set up the trial lesson? Or do you do it?</p>

<p>I read with great interest the parts in the other thread about payment. It seems like it varies widely. It is hard for me to understand why professors would ever do this without payment?? So generous! What is their reasoning in their willingness to provide trial lessons for free??? Seems like they would be awfully busy. Is it difficult to schedule trial lessons? How far ahead of time should one schedule?</p>

<p>Sorry to have so many questions. Clearly, I need some "edumacating." </p>

<p>TIA.</p>

<p>Hoggirl, I am only one step ahead because my D has just started this process as a HS junior, so stay tuned for more experienced posters.
Here is my understanding of the need for trial lessons, however: if your student wants to major in music, the teacher becomes one of the most important factors in choosing where the student goes to school. So anywhere that she is going to consider for college, we want her to meet some of the faculty for her instrument and get a trial lesson with a faculty member. She did this last fall and essentially crossed one school off her list - both the faculty and the campus didn't seem right for her. That's one fewer place that she has on her list now, which is a good thing! The list is long.
I am hoping with more visits and lessons she will understand better who she wants to study with and where she wants to go (see violagirl's post in the thread you mentioned). I know not everyone does this, but I am hoping to spread out the college search so that everything doesn't happen at once in her senior year.</p>

<p>I'll attack a few questions (if you do a search, you can find extended threads that answer all of the others):</p>

<p>Why do some professors give trial lessons for free? a) It helps attract students. b) It may be a job expectation. c) Many are naturally very generous (they went into teaching because they enjoy helping others; if they enjoyed money more than people, many could have chosen medicine :)).</p>

<p>How does one get a trial lesson? a) Try emailing the teacher. b) If you get no response to your email, try calling the department to find out if the teacher prefers phone or snail mail contact or if they just do not give trial lessons.</p>

<p>Are trial lessons done in conjunction with college visits/tours? Yes, if possible in order to save a trip. However, be aware that teachers are often unavailable for trial lessons during the summer when many college visits occur. Since tours are available almost any time, try to book the lesson first and build the visit around that.</p>

<p>How do you choose which teacher to have a lesson with? a) Ask around. Ask your child's music teacher(s) for recommendations. If your child's teacher has no knowledge, ask them if they know anyone that would have knowledge or recommendations.<br>
b) Read the bios that every school has on their site. Personally, I don't think that the bios are very informative about how good a teacher an individual will be for your child, but they do provide a start. Most bios focus on the teacher's education and performance experience--not a lot is usually said about their teaching.
c) Don't choose, but instead, try getting a lesson with two teachers at a school if you are quite interested in that school. This is quite common.<br>
d) Try to email present or former students (or their parents). You can use the College Confidential lists of where students chose to attend--these lists which go back years, list the student's instrument and the school they decided to attend. Most parents that I have contacted have been extremely helpful. Another way of contacting students of the teachers you are interested in is to contact the school itself and ask if it is possible to be put in contact with a student on your child's instrument. Some schools have programs in place for this; others will not. We emailed an acquaintance studying a different instrument at a school and she put us in contact with a couple of students in the studios we were interested in.</p>

<p>Do all types of schools do trial lessons? Yes. but there are schools of all types that are less likely to do them. A few teachers just simply do not do them--they are too busy and get far too many requests to accommodate. In my area, trial lessons are not common.</p>

<p>Is a trial lesson necessary at any school you would want to attend? No, and many students do not have trial lessons. However, a trial lesson can provide valuable information about a teacher that makes it easier to make a decision about which school to attend. Some believe that having a trial lesson makes admission chances higher; personally I don't believe that it would in most cases, but with some teachers it might (and if the lesson is memorably bad, then it could reduce chances :)).</p>

<p>Who sets up the trial lesson? Many will say that it is essential that the student set it up because they are almost an adult and must handle all adult responsibilities (they will be away from home very soon). Personally, I think that the parent might want to supervise the emails (to make sure that tone, grammar, spelling, and information is appropriate/accurate), and that, if phoning is not possible for the student, then the parent can be involved (teachers may tend to call when students are in their high school classes and cannot or at least should not take phone calls!).</p>

<p>Violindad's advice is right on target (as usual)! We were completely stumped as to how to select a teacher for sample lessons or to put as a preference on a form. Here are some of the strategies we used:</p>

<ol>
<li><p>Use this forum as a resource. I PM'ed people and asked for recommendations. Everyone was very gracious and didn't make me feel like the clueless newbie I was. (Now I'm just clueless, that that's a different story...)</p></li>
<li><p>D3 made a chart and devoted much of one lesson to discussing options with her teacher. She included all of the schools that were under consideration, audition rep requirements, and a list of teachers. She walked out with some teacher names highlighted, others crossed out, still others unknown. </p></li>
</ol>

<p>(Due to a weird circumstance in her music situation, she was enrolled at two different music schools on two different instruments. She did ask for advice from her secondary teacher and others at each school, and got some conflicting opinions (one person saying "you should study with Teacher X who is terrific" and another saying "whatever you do, don't even have a lesson with Teacher X at a summer program").</p>

<ol>
<li><p>Read the bios, google etc. </p></li>
<li><p>I seem to recall that some schools discourage multiple sample lessons during the same visit, but I'm hazy on the details. D did find that auditions were more comfortable when she had already had a sample lesson with at least one person on the committee, but she did get admitted at a couple of places where sample lessons just never worked out...so it's not a necessary step in the process.</p></li>
</ol>

<p>We have had 4 admits so far with no sample lessons at any - definitely not a requirement but is helpful for the student for sure.</p>

<p>Two other ideas for lessons:</p>

<p>Some professors are on the faculty of summer music festivals. For example, Aria rotates professors throughout three sessions so you can apply for the one that has the professor you would like to meet. I have a friend who is applying to a university on the basis of her experience with a professor at Brevard.</p>

<p>My D was able to schedule lessons with three professors during the National Flute Convention. It seemed like a pretty standard practice. If there is a national association in your instrument, a convention is a great resource because you have the opportunity to hear professors and ensembles, sit-in on masterclasses, and meet faculty and students from all over the country.</p>

<p>Also, if you can't schedule trial lessons prior to auditions, you could wait until the end of March when you have your acceptances in. Then if you have difficulty choosing from several options, consider trying to schedule one or two trial lessons. Obviously time is limited then, but at least you will only be doing lessons at schools that have already accepted you. Often a lesson makes it clear that the teacher fit is either wonderful or terrible.</p>

<p>Other's advice matches what I have heard, about how to go about it. The reason for a sample lesson is that being taught music is unlike academic teaching, it is very personal, a mentor/master kind of deal, and teaching styles that work for one doesn't necessarily work for another and the idea is to try and get an idea which teacher works for you. Doesn't mean you are doomed if you choose teachers by reputation, advice from current teachers, etc, not at all, it is just another piece of information (not to mention that you may do sample lessons and end up with a teacher you didn't have a sample lesson with, if the sample teachers were not available to teach you/didn't want to, or you got a strong recommendation to use another teacher at the school, for example). There is a theory that having sample lessons or otherwise exposed to a teacher at a school might heighten your chances of getting accepted there, but I don't have any hard proof that goes on and I wouldn't count on that as a reason to do it.</p>

<p>Thanks so much to all of you - especially Violindad! I appreciate your very thorough reply to so many of my questions. I do think the idea of trial lessons <em>after</em> auditions and any admissions are in is very practical. </p>

<p>Can you please tell me the most effective way to search for old threads as you suggested? Do I use quotes around trial lessons? Sorry. I am such a newbie and a techno-idiot to boot!</p>